World / Middle East

Iran vows to hit back as US rejects UN envoy

By Agencies in Teheran (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-14 07:14

Teheran to take up case with the world body as old wounds reopen

Iran rejected on Saturday the US decision to deny a visa for its newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations, pledging to take up the case directly with the world body in a dispute that has reopened old wounds dating to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The United States, which hosts the United Nations, said Iran's candidate Hamid Abutalebi was unacceptable given his role in a 444-day crisis in which radical Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Teheran and took 52 US citizens hostage.

US President Barack Obama had come under strong domestic pressure not to allow Abutalebi into the country to take up his position in New York, raising concerns that the dispute would disrupt delicate negotiations between Iran and six world powers, including the US, over Iran's nuclear program.

"We have no replacement for Mr Abutalebi and we will pursue the matter via legal mechanisms envisioned at the United Nations," said Abbas Araghchi, a senior foreign ministry official, as quoted by Iran's official IRNA news agency.

"Based on an agreement with the United Nations, America is bound to act according to its international commitments," Araghchi said. The United Nations said it had no comment on the US decision.

Prominent Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the US had no right to intervene in Iran's UN envoy selection.

"Naming Abutalebi as Iran's UN envoy has nothing to do with the US. American opposition to Abutalebi's entry is a misuse of the geographical location of the UN," the Iranian parliament's website quoted Boroujerdi as saying on Saturday. "The Iranian government should stand up to this US bullying."

US law allows Washington to bar UN diplomats who are considered national security threats. But Obama's potentially precedent-setting step could open the US to criticism that it is wielding its position as host nation to improperly exert political influence.

Araghchi is also a top negotiator in Iran's talks with major powers on defusing a standoff over its disputed nuclear activity. Iran has said Washington's rejection of Abutalebi will not affect the talks, whose next round is set for May 13.

Abutalebi says he served solely as a periodic translator for the Islamist students who seized the US embassy hostages, and he has since evolved into a moderate figure favoring, like President Hassan Rouhani, a thaw in Iran's ties with the West.

Since an uproar among former US hostages and US lawmakers over Abutalebi broke out, Teheran has steadfastly stuck by its choice, describing him as a seasoned diplomat who has served in various capacities in Western countries.

In comments posted on Facebook late on Friday, Abutalebi said the US move against him set a "wrong new precedent".

Vahi Ahmadiah, a hard-line conservative cleric who heads the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, said: "The US has no right to inject its issues into an international matter. It has shown (here) its hostile nature again. It uses every chance to hit out at the Islamic Republic."


(China Daily 04/14/2014 page11)

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